Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mom and her brother in Texas


Today's family snapshot shows Mom (right) and her older brother, my Uncle Charles, playing together at the family home in Kingsville, Texas.1 Mom was born in January 1948, so I'm going to estimate this photo is from sometime in the first half of 1949.

Some observations:
  • What is that on the table between them? A terrarium?
  • The disorderly nature of the books and papers under the table makes me very uncomfortable.
  • One of the books features the works of Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • My uncle's socks seem to match his shirt.
  • I think my sister might now have the chair that my uncle is kneeling on.

Footnote
1. Interesting related tidbit: Reality Winner, who has been in the news quite a bit this year, grew up in Kingsville, Texas, after being born in nearby Alice.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

1920s postcard: Weymouth, The Sands & Donkeys


This postcard, which appears to have a postmark of July 28, 1924, features the busy summer beach scene at Weymouth, Dorset, Jurassic Coast, England. Some of the signs you can see, if you magnify the image, are AMERICAN STUDIO, ICE CREAM WAFERS, and NOTED ICES.

Weymouth has long been a tourist destination and resort. And donkeys have long been a part of that scene and are still present today. This website tells you all about Gracy, Dolly, Jasmine, Dainty and other current donkeys. The donkeys are also available for weddings and corporate weddings, but the website is sure to note that "the donkeys work 6 days a week, they take it in turns to have their day off."

The current donkeys, while still indentured, seem to have it better than past donkeys. On Victorian Tales from Weymouth and Portland, Susan Hogben noted the following in a 2013 blog post titled "Weymouth 1866. A cruel life for Victorian beach donkeys":
"The [current] donkeys on Weymouth sands are well cared for and much loved, they have their own umbrellas for shade, a proper lunch break, lots of cuddles and snacks. But life hadn’t always been kind to these gentle souls of the sands.

"In the Victorian local papers were numerous cases of cruelty by the owners and many of the young lads who used to be in charge of the rides on the beach. One of the cases in 1866 concerned 14-year-old Samuel Vincent, who was hauled before the local magistrates for cruelly mistreating a donkey. ...

"One of the donkeys was dragging his heels that day, lagging behind the rest of the group. The lad, carrying a large stick with him, was seen repeatedly beating the donkey on its hocks as hard as he could. That still not achieving what he wanted, he then proceeded to pick up large pebbles from the beach, throwing them at the donkeys legs, hitting them hard, causing the donkey to go lame.

"It seems that this wasn’t the first time Samuel had been observed beating the donkeys, nor was it just Samuel who was guilty of doing so. Many of other boys who worked for the donkey proprietor were guilty of cruelty towards these gentle beasts of the sands and found themselves hauled before the courts.

"The proprietor himself had been warned numerous times about the cases of cruelty observed towards his herd of little donkeys. Even the goats which were used to pull the carts along the promenade didn’t escape the beatings."
So sad. Please be kind to animals, everyone.

* * *
As for the back of this postcard, it was mailed with a red, one-penny stamp featuring King George V. The recipient was Miss A. Henderson, Townhill [?] Cooperative Society Ltd., Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland. The short note states:
"Dear Friend we are enjoying ourselves ... and having lovely weather down here. it's such a lovely place. hoping all are well at home.
from A.D."
I'm guessing that A.D. does not stand for "A Donkey," because that would be something.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Charles Simmons' cabinet card


Here's a standard 19th century cabinet card that features Charles Simmons (1847-1916). We're related. Charles was a brother of Helen Gregg Simmons Chandler, who was my great-grandmother Greta's mother. So I think that makes him my great-great-granduncle. (Genealogists, please chime in and tell me if there's a better way to phrase that.)

Charles didn't seem to stray far during his lifetime. He was born and died in Wilmington, Delaware. That's also where this photograph was taken, at J. Paul Brown's professional studio.

Charles died on December 22, 1916, and his wife, Mary, died less than three months later, on February 27, 1917. I don't have the full extent of their family tree in front of me, but I believe that Charles and Mary, at the very least, had a daughter named Elizabeth.

Just a coincidence, of course, but Mom and her brother are named Mary and Charles, and my sister's middle name is Elizabeth.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 21)

Presented without commentary, these are the final two pages of puzzles and games from "The Do-It-Yourself Book" portion of 1929's The New Human Interest Library. The text doesn't provide any instructions.

Up next will be a section titled The Comradeship Book, which will include coverage of Boy Rangers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire Girls and 4-H Clubs.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Plot thickens in Mom's attempts to escape summer camp

New evidence has emerged in the mystery of Mom's attempts to gain an early release from a summer camp nearly six decades ago.

Last week, I featured a cartoon postcard that Mom drew, pleading to her mother to come and rescue her from Camp Chesapeake in Maryland. That postcard, though compelling in its content, was never mailed.

But this newly discovered postcard was mailed.

Instead of using illustrations, Mom turned to prose to make her urgent case for emancipation from camp. Here's what her cursive note states:
Dear Mom
Please Come this sunday! I Want to go home! I get burns, sore throats, colds, horse throats and Lots of things like that! You gotta come I'm really getting more and More homesick each night. Please!
Love
Mary M.
P.S. If you can't come I'll cry my heart out.
I'd say that's about a 9.5 out of 10 on the Child Melodrama Scale. Today, I reckon something like this would be sent in a series of text messages, with many emojis.

As I mentioned, this one was mailed successfully to their home in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. It was postmarked in North East, Maryland, on August 1, 1958 (a Friday). Mom was 10½ at the time.

I no longer have any way of confirming if Mom's pleas worked and earned her an early retrieval from camp. But I do believe that the following summer (1959) was her first year at Camp Lochearn, which she went on to love and enjoy for several years as a camper and counselor. So it's possible that Camp Chesapeake represented a single summer's discomfort before Mom found her perfect camp fit.

Uplifting notes from across the globe, via Postcrossing


Here's my latest roundup of some of the goodwill spread through Postcrossing, the international postcard exchange that reaffirms that it's just as much fun to give as to receive. It's a constant reminder, too, that the world is filled with wonderful and kind people. They're just not the ones in the key positions of power.

The postcard at the top of the post came to me from Alice in China, and it features the breathtaking Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Alice's note to me says, "I think work as a UNITED STATES OF AMERICA sports editor is very cool." I laughed a bit.

I was also cheered by the postcard I received from Felicity in Germany. She recently became a mother and is working on something for her daughter. She writes: "In February this year, I get the first time mother and I will collect 150 or more postcards from all over the world, for my daughter, to make a special present in the future. That's the reason I do Postcrossing." Of course, I asked Felicity for her address and will be sending something for young Adriana's future collection.

Meanwhile, here are some of the (lightly edited) email messages that I have gotten, over the past half-year, from international Postcrossers who have received my postcards in their faraway mailboxes. (These are chronological, with the oldest emails first.)
From "Alpha133" in Belgium
Hello Chris. Glad to meet you by Postcrossing. Reading books is my passion. I believe in respect of the human and in the freedom of expression, very important. Thank you for the postcard and the beautiful stamps. ... I hope everything goes well for you and your family and cats and dog.

From Christina in the United Kingdom
Thank you very much for the lovely postcard; the photo is so cool. Looking at it reminds me of the joy of the freedom and imagination of childhood. Don't worry, I (and many other British people) understand that the new President does not represent the majority of decent American people. He lost by 3 million votes, after all! We know that there is a certain demographic of very Conservative Americans who seem pretty unhinged to us Brits, but also that they are a minority. We won't judge a whole country by who your President is, you have our support and understanding! If only everyone participated in Postcrossing and indulged in the principle of spreading love and friendship across the World, I believe the World would be a more peaceful and tolerant place. As someone who voted (strongly) to remain in the European Union, I understand some of the frustration you must be feeling. All we can do (as our Queen advised us last Christmas) is to keep sharing small acts of love to help us cope in these difficult times. Very Best Wishes.

From Alex in Russia
Hello Chris, thank you for lovely postcard. I don't really read comics, I was born in the country and in the times when there were no comics at all. Most of my knowledge of comics come from films. However, I like postcards with comics on it. I've seen Marvel comics in Russian in the shops, now they are available. I fully agree with you, peace is what we need now. Thank you. Best wishes, Alex.

From Victoria in Russia
Good day, Chris! Thank you for such interesting postcard! I agree with you and I also believe that our world really can move toward greats peace!

From Jan in Thailand
Thank you so much for the lovely postcard and colorful stamps. I love it so much. And I love your handwriting. It's lovely. I saw alpacas once when I travel to the northeast of Thailand. There's one alpacas farm there. I hope you have a wonderful day.

From Babs in the Netherlands
Hello Chris. Thank you for the card. I have seen a movie about the Amish. Some are pleasant and some are very dominant and extreme. But in every religion you have nice and extreme people. Have a nice day and enjoy your life and work.

From Roo in Singapore
Hello from Singapore. I just received your postcard. It was such a pleasant surprise to find your card in the mailbox. Oh, happy birthday to your daughter! I wish her all the best. As for you I wish you a wonderful life and all the best for your country. Take care.

From Sally in the United Kingdom
Hi Chris. Thank you so much for my postcard. I am loving the girl reading to the chicken!!! I am also a book lover. I go on holiday tomorrow and I just can't fit enough books in my case! Anyways I hope you and Huggles are well. (What a cool cat name!)

From Mawar in Malaysia
Hi dear, thanks for the wishing. I will study hard as this is my last semester. I agree with you about the history and yes, we need more smart people with good attitude. Honesty must come first and make our earth sustain for future. Lots of love from malaysia.

From Sasa in China
Hello Chris, I'm Sasa. I'm glad to receive your postcard and I super like the stamps! Editor is one of my favourite job! Thank you for your card and nice to meet you!

From Barbra in Canada
Hi Chris! Thanks for the great card! I've actually spent some time in the Lancaster area, many years ago. It's beautiful there. And yes — working as editor of a newspaper, especially in the U.S., would definitely be an interesting line of work at this point in our history. Thanks again for the lovely note.

From Gabriele in Germany
Hi Chris, I was thrilled to get your lovely card. The stamps are amazing, thank you! We have a lot in common — my husband is a journalist, I write articles and books, and we have cats as well: Brooke, Humphrey and Yuki. And a dog, Zoe. My son wanted to breed alpacas, now settled for bees instead. They need a lot less room. Tomorrow will be extremely hot, 36°C are promised. I have to work, will probably melt away at the computer. All best wishes for your and yours, enjoy life!

From Erna in Holland
Thanks a lot for the two postcards we received from you. How nice your daughter is being homeschooled, too. Wishing her all the best for her studies and thanks a lot for the nice stamps you picked!

From Elke in Germany
Hello Chris! Today your letter arrived here in Germany! What a gem between ads and bills! It made my day today! THANK YOU so much for the two historic postcards you sent — they are so beautiful! Another big THANK YOU for the stamps you put on the envelope. I usually soak off stamps and keep them in albums. But some postcrossing envelopes (like yours) are too beautiful so I started to collect them whole and undamaged (I am not sure if "postal stationery" is the correct word). Where did you find all those old stamps — some of them older than you?! VIELEN DANK! Wish you all the best — enjoy LIFE!

From Miwako in Japan
Hello! Thank you for the beautiful postcard and stamps. I really like it! May the world be 平和. Best wishes and happy postcrossing!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Photos of family members reading

On the heels of yesterday's photo-sorting (more of a photo-pruning) marathon, here's a little collection of old photographs of family members reading books.

First up is an old AZO real photo postcard that has been trimmed down to a snapshot that's just under 3 inches by 4 inches. My best guess at the handwriting on the back says this is Aunt Gertrude Horsey and James Adams, her nephew. The photo was taken in either Laurel or Seaford, Delaware, in the 1910s.


Next up is my grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams (before she was Helen Chandler Adams Ingham). According to the back of the photo, this was taken on New Year's Day in 1934.


Here's another shot of Mom, Mary Margaret Ingham, before she was Mary Margaret Ingham Otto. It's similar to this photo, but she's wearing a different dress, and it looks like she might be just a little bit older here. (How awesome would it be to identify that book from just those two open pages?)


BONUS PHOTO: Here's me at the beach in 1975, probably wishing I had a book instead of sand between my toes.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The best thing to do at summer camp


I have been sorting through so many family photos today. Nineteenth century photos. Baby photos. Photos of me with really awful hair. Wallet photos. Mom's summer camp photos. Mom's college photos. Mom's many, many world-travel photos. So many photos.

This is one of my favorites.

And we don't even know for certain who is pictured. Never will.

It's a girl reading a book while laying in bed in her cabin at Camp Lochearn in Vermont. A round suitcase sits at the side of the bed, as do a pair of shoes (the girl has only socks on her feet).

I'm assuming that Mom took the photo; she's in very few of the Lochearn photos. Here's the caption information on the back:
Carol Shamberg just before leaving Lochearn Camp 1960.
Cabin 7
Dundee
No it's not. It's Linda Barnett just before she left Fest [first?] month.
The first part was written by a young girl, based on the handwriting. The "No it's not" part was written later, in a more-assured cursive script. Both captions are by Mom, I'm guessing.

Carol ... Linda ... either way, it's a girl — 57 summer ago — enjoying a book, which is just about the best thing to do with your free time during a lazy summer day.

More images of girls and women reading books